Montreal, Très Bien

By Hannah Wallace July 31, 2008

Forgo the August sizzle with a splash of Canadian cool. The world’s second-largest French-speaking city, Montreal is a sophisticated destination with world-class dining, shopping, an expansive cultural history and lots of pizzazz. Lively, friendly and gracious—with a jazzy, sassy ambiance—it’s the perfect bonjour getaway. (Yes, they speak English, too.)


SEE: Jump into culture—everyone else does. See new filmmakers’ efforts at Ex-Centris, the dazzling film and screening complex. Hit the Montreal Museum of Fine Art for classics, the Musee d’art Contemporain for modern art and the Museum of Archeology and History, built atop the ruins of the old city, for an eye-opening sense of place. Old Montreal and Old Port provide an intimate time warp of historic buildings, galleries and cafes, and downtown’s new Quartier International is the futuristic place to people watch.


L’Hotel Le St
-James, housed in a former bank, is a luxe favorite of bold-faced names. For contemporary chic, L’Hotel Opus Montreal offers great city views and panoramic views.

DINE: At the cozy Quebecois Joe Beef, hip locals line up for French-inspired fare with ingredients from the nearby local farmer’s market. For great food for a great cause (profits are given to local charities), join celebs and locals at hotspot Robin Des Bois. And Duel, where two chefs, French and Asian, ask diners to pick sides in a monthly gourmet smackdown, is the best show in town on any night. Other top-flight eateries include Marche Atwater, La Banquise, Toque and L’Express.

SHOP: A hotbed of design, Montreal is awash in boutiques with flair. Shop for the latest trends on Saint-Laurent, or eccentric retro on Amherst in the Village.

Historic Saint-Denis Street
has a wealth of cutting-edge shops offering fashion, housewares, books and music, and charming outdoor cafes as well. Surface Jalouse is the city’s most buzzed-about design store, alone worth the trip.

INSIDER’S TIP: Romance? Mais oui! Take the Lighting Tour of Old Montreal for artistically lit stunning architecture, narrow streets and a step back in time. You can do it on foot, but a horse-drawn carriage is plus intime.

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